Graded on a Curve:
Lulu Lewis,
Genuine Psychic

Lulu Lewis isn’t a person but a Harlem, NYC-based band, the core of which is vocalist Dylan Hundley and guitarist Pablo Martin, the husband-and-wife co-songwriters joined live by bassist William X Hawley, drummer Jay Mumford, and keyboardist/ percussionist Bruce Martin. Back in 2017, they released a self-titled cassette EP that offered a tight introductory four-song set of new wavy/ post-punky pop-rocking, a sound their debut full-length Genuine Psychic expands upon to fruitful result. It’s out July 12 digitally and on vinyl in a limited edition of 100 copies through Ilegalia Records; the same day they play a record release show with DC’s Messthetics at Brooklyn’s Union Pool.

If the name Dylan Hundley rings a bell, that might be due to her participation in the cinema of Whit Stillman, specifically Metropolitan, the director’s first feature from 1990 and a significant (if sometimes overlooked) entry in the US independent film canon. And if Pablo Martin sounds familiar, there’s a good chance that’s related to his role in Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz’s Tom Tom Club.

Genuine Psychic offers a fresh avenue of recognition for the pair, with the album’s songs well-rounded, the better to appeal to older heads and youngsters alike. As mentioned in the intro above, the taster EP placed them securely in pop-rock territory through a sensibility that was more than a bit reminiscent of the late ’70s-early-’80s; Hundley has pipes and frontwoman presence that’s descended from the likes of Debbie Harry. This isn’t to suggest she hits peaks as high as Harry at her best, but Hundley does get close at times, and hey, this is just Lulu Lewis’ first LP.

Smartly, Genuine Psychic grabs the two best songs from the EP and puts the very strongest right up front, with “Gone to LA” spotlighting a distinctive, bubbly-on-the-edge of breaking vocal quality in the choruses. It’s a treat, and in fact the song is a definite all-around earworm. That’s not a positive in and of itself, but here, yes, which is credit to the musical foundation.

This brings us to a possible caveat, in that Lulu Lewis’ stuff might be constructed with a little too much sophistication and finesse for more “purist” rockers. “City Below the Hunter” is surely pretty electro-derived, though on the other hand, there’s no shortage of rhythmic punch. Unlike a fair percentage of neo-new wave/ post-punk, the song kicks up considerable dust.

Neo new wave/ post-punk? Well yeah, but the title track gets nearer to a ’90s sound. To hone the observation, it’s not far from the kinda thing the Too Pure label was releasing during the decade, a layered, groovy, post-rock sorta deal, and that’s cool. Hundley’s wordless vocals might find her stepping back a bit, but it’s only temporary, as “Dig Beat” (the other track from the EP) finds her up front with husky swagger validating the self-cited Goth tag (and illuminating the range in Hundley’s approach).

Think Siouxsie, but also Dinah Cancer, a distinction made to underscore an affinity with punk’s pre-hardcore days, when the form was far less rigidly defined. The spare “Moving Fast” resists the pace of its title and is instead an appropriately moody follow-up to “Dig Beat,” though side two’s opener and album highlight “Intelligent Life” manages to blend “Mechanical Man”-era Devo with the Tubeway Army and the joyous Saturday afternoon B-movie matinee energy of the early B-52’s, all while wielding social commentary with a sense of humor. And if that’s not punk, then go eat a sock.

Worth noting in relation to the aforementioned dust-kicking rhythmic drive (and punk bona fides), Fugazi’s Brendan Canty guests on drums for “Intelligent Life,” and the addition is palpable. But with “The Sidewalks,” the band’s professed soul influence shines as bright as the floodlight manned by Scorsese in the club scene in After Hours; what’s heard isn’t really that far from the work of another NYC duo, The Shacks (they of the Big Crown label), and that’s a total complement.

Of course, Lulu Lewis are a duo with assistance, joined on Genuine Psychic by live regulars Mumford and Harvey while Julius Solo drums all over the record, Daniel Andrada adds a little tabla to closer “Eternal Youth,” and Sergio Rotman honks sax on the new/no wavy “One Note Rock ‘N’ Roll” (Hundley’s delivery of the verses here has a robotic quality that also arises in “City Below the Hunter”).

Another rewarding aspect is the record’s comfort with eccentricity, which in the case of the speedy raucous electro-punk of “Rock the Deer,” gets expressed lyrically as well as instrumentally. “Eternal Youth” winds things down by revisiting the soul zone but with an increased edge nodding back to the ’90s aura of “Genuine Psychic.” It completes a tidy but satisfying, fun but substantial LP.

And as noted up top, there are only 100 copies pressed, so if this scenario reads as appealing, dallying isn’t advisable, especially since it’s quite the attractively designed package, from Antonella Malachite’s artwork to Une Maitresse Femme’s B&W back cover photo. Most important of all, Genuine Psychic presents Dylan Hundley and Pablo Martin as an effective creative unit.

GRADED ON A CURVE:
A-

This entry was posted in The TVD Storefront. Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.
  • SUPPORTING YOUR LOCAL INDIE SHOPS SINCE 2007


  • Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text
  • Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text